01 1.5 The Binding of the Wolf2A swift patch of darkness sweeps over the surface of the Black Sea, swooping left and whirling right. Soon, another shadow flirts with the first, appearing beneath the rays of moonlight and coyly hiding in the mist. Above the shadows, mirroring their wan cousins, two great ravens frolic beyond the reach of the sea spray. The ebony duo are known as Huginn for Thought and Muninn for Memory.

All seems well and good for the Raven brothers until a cold wind rushes in, whispering secrets in their ears that portend of coming disaster. They listen to the tale of the Wind and grow much distressed. Their caws and screams crash through the silence, dissolving the chilly peace. With fevered beating of their wings, they race up, up, hastening toward the stars, urgent to bring the news to their Master in Asgard.

On and on they fly, into the streaks of brilliant orange marking the edge of the world. The sky reddens as the great fire ball soars upward, and still they continue on, pounding the air beneath them in much haste. A cloud envelops them and soon transforms into a raging thunderstorm, ripping at their wings. The sharp bite of hailstones pummels their light bodies and rolls off the oily sleekness of their obsidian feathers, but they take heart as they’re almost home.

Out of the violent storm they fly, racing to the center of the murky waters, into the middle of the world. Jutting straight out of the sea a tall mountain peak rises so high, it’s unreachable by even the most heroic of men. This glorious place, set among the clouds, glistening in a golden haze of sunshine, is known as Asgard, the home of the Norse Gods. And on the terrace of the looming stone castle, in the middle of the rocky island, stands the most powerful Norse God of all, Odin.

Now Odin isn’t a peaceful God or even a moral God; in fact, there’s little to recommend him except his cunning. But in this wild age, cunning is most needed. Upon seeing the brother Ravens, Odin raises his arms to greet them, where they land with much relief. Muninn, being known as Memory, jumps to Odin’s shoulder to recount his secrets.

“Master,” Muninn gurgles in his ear, “Wind carries ill news.”

Odin notices the Raven brothers are jittery with fear, but then they’re a dramatic species, prone to devilish pranks and raucous arguments. Odin, who is also the Master of Wind, knows well her capricious nature. After blowing steadily South for days, she might suddenly change direction and blow North for the sheer joy of hindering seamen, making them sail into the wind. In the middle of the clearest day with azure colored skies, she relishes ushering in the rain while shrieking her laughter through tree branches and whistling her delight through rafters. Wind is indeed fickle, and news from her can never be trusted. Still, Odin listens avidly to Muninn.

“What did sister Wind tell you, my son?”

Muninn shifts his feet up and down in agitation and gurgles, “Wind says that the great wolf Fenrir is destined to bring you death.”

Huginn loudly caws his turmoil, “Death! Death!” in Odin’s ear.

Odin winces at the loud noise and turns to Muninn once again. “How did Wind say Fenrir would end my existence?”

Muninn rattles deep in his throat, “He will eat you, Master.”

Huginn screams again, “Fly away! Away!”

Odin gravely nods his head and says, “Thank you Brother Ravens, you have done well to bring me this news. I will see what can be done. Now go, and let me consider this matter.”

Muninn and Huginn feel great relief on divulging the ill news of the Wind and depart easy of heart, their duty done.

Odin strokes long fingers through his snow white beard and thinks how foolish the brothers are to listen to Wind. Still, Fenrir was born of the union between the Demigod Loki and the Giantess Angrboda and is indeed an enormous wolf.

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